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Social psychiatric traditions between the empire period and national socialism

Social psychiatric traditions between the empire period and national socialism

Psychiatrische Praxis 16(2): 78-85

From the time psychiatry had become a scientific discipline in its own right, sociopsychiatric efforts have been directed towards erecting a second outpatient care pillar in the psychiatric patient care setup to make up for the drawbacks of oversize psychiatric hospitals that were the problematic heritage of erstwhile Prussia. During the period of the German Empire under Kaiser William II these efforts were not honored by the state. This started, with serious consequences, a vicious circle of institutionalising mentally deranged patients, a procedure that seemed to inflate the incidence of these diseases to the dimensions of a menace and hence created a fertile soil for the axioms of "reacial hygiene" to take root. The Bavarian psychiatrist Gustav Kolb (1870-1938), who realised how much of this development was really "home made", demanded in 1908--pursuing and expanding the ideas of that paradigmatic scientist and first sociopsychiatrist, Wilhelm Griesinger (1817-1868)--once again to recognise psychiatric care by setting up a second outpatient pillar in the form of an "Open Public Welfare Service" attached to a relevant psychiatric hospital. However, the full significance of his reformatory proposals was not realised at that time. When finally open public welfare was translated into reality during 1918-1933 as a result of the zealous efforts on the part of the reformatory psychiatrists, this was mainly done to save cost, whereas Kolb's original aims were largely lost in the process.

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